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Production Policy Memo 19

Revised October 2021

Sexual Content and Nudity in School Productions, with Classroom and Rehearsal Guidelines for Intimacy

The Goal

Sexual Content and Nudity (SC/N) require careful consideration as early as the season selection process. Artists in scenes with SC/N take great personal risk, and our goal is to allow them to take that risk in an educational environment that is as safe, supportive, and comfortable as possible. SC/N can only be included in a production when it can be done responsibly and according to the following guidelines. We seek to replicate the conditions, detail, documentation, and accountability traditionally employed for fight choreography for scenes with sexual choreography. Ultimately, we wish to open the door for the dialogue
necessary for brave work and expansive collaborations.

Definition of Nudity

We define Nudity as exposing any skin that would normally be covered by a tank top and trunks, regardless of gender. This doesn’t mean that Nudity isn’t allowed on UW’s stages. What we intend is that when this threshold is to be crossed, the guidelines in this policy memo must be followed

Definition of Sexual Content

We define Sexual Content as any depiction of a sexual act on stage, including but not limited to sexualized touching, kissing, prolonged close physical contact (such as cuddling or grinding), masturbation, and simulated intercourse.


  • SC/N will be disclosed in notices and invitations, and at auditions.
  • SC/N will not be required or requested at any audition.
  • When sexual choreography is required, prospective participants can be auditioned using nonsexual choreography to determine physical control.
  • Actors who will be asked to perform SC/N as part of the production must confirm consent to performing SC/N at the time of audition.
  • There will be a questionnaire at auditions for productions with SC/N where an actor can articulate their boundaries for SC/N. There will be no academic repercussions for an actor stating SC/N boundaries.
  • Actors who will be asked to expose sexual organs, breasts, or buttocks as part of the production must be at least 18 years old, and must provide proof of age at the audition.
  • If a full script is made available to prospective participants, language similar to the following should be included: “Please read the script closely and confirm that you are comfortable working with this material. Feel welcome to bring questions about content to the audition process. Your level of comfort with the content of this script will not impact your casting consideration for future productions.”
  • For devised productions, prospective participants must be made aware of any expectations of SC/N in the production. As in a scripted production, actors have the option to decline SC/N elements added after audition or pre-casting disclosure, without repercussions.
  • Pre-cast actors must be made aware of SC/N prior to accepting their roles.
  • If a pre-cast PATP actor declines the role based on not wishing to perform SC/N, the head of the acting program will assign them a different role, production, or project that will satisfy their curricular requirements, without repercussions.


  • The production manager will standardize communication and protocols with directors requiring SC/N.
  • Designers will receive disclosure of SC/N and known design requirements.
  • Discussions around sensitive requirements and how they will be handled should begin during preproduction meetings.
  • If an intimacy choreographer is engaged for a production, they may be included in preproduction meetings.
  • The costume designer and actor should meet early in the design process when nudity is part of the costume design.


[Note: In the protocols that follow there are many references to the stage manager of a production. If the stage manager is a student, the School of Drama production manager will meet with the stage manager and provide resources for them to be ready to rehearse and perform an SC/N scene. Additionally, the production manager will actively support the stage manager during group rehearsal sessions involving SC/N such as technical rehearsals and run-throughs.]

  • There must be at least one rehearsal of scenes with SC/N prior to tech.
  • Prior to rehearsing scenes with SC/N, the actors, director, choreographer, and stage manager will discuss the content and create consent for the rehearsal. Participants will build consent and discuss boundaries before rehearsing scenes with SC/N. A safe word (such as “hold”) should be established for SC/N rehearsals.
  • Initial SC/N rehearsals will be closed, such that only participants involved in the scene are present. SC/N rehearsals will be opened after agreement by the stage manager, director, and actors involved. The stage manager will be present at all rehearsals where SC/N is rehearsed. Alternately, the actors may request that a UW faculty or staff member be present in lieu of or in addition to the stage manager, and the actors may specify the gender of the faculty or staff member who will be present.
  • Rehearsals will be closed to visitors during scenes with SC/N.
  • It is the Stage Manager’s duty to document the terms of consent and details of sexual choreography.
  • Actors performing nude scenes will have and wear robes or other coverings when not rehearsing. Robes will be provided and regularly laundered for all actors who will appear nude.
  • A time limit for rehearsing SC/N will be established and communicated.
  • Backstage areas and dressing rooms will provide reasonable accommodations for modesty/privacy.
  • Actors have the option to decline SC/N elements added after audition disclosure, without repercussions.

Tech Rehearsals

  • Nudity during technical rehearsals will be limited to those times when it is absolutely necessary. Flesh-colored clothing or a robe may be worn when nudity is not required.
  • The actors, director, and stage manager will discuss and reach consent on who hands the robe to the nude actor on their exit.
  • Technical rehearsals will be closed to visitors during scenes with SC/N. Only participants
    whose presence is required are allowed be present in the house, the wings, or in any backstage space with a view of the stage. It is the stage manager’s duty to dispatch gawkers.
  • The stage manager must be vigilant in identifying and resolving potential physical hazards for nude actors, such as splinters and rough edges.


Only participants whose presence is required are allowed be present in the wings or in any backstage space with a view of the stage. It is the stage manager’s duty to dispatch gawkers.


We believe that building consent among participants is an important part of creating an atmosphere of trust and communication. We intend to recognize the following practices when building consent among participants:

  • A consent-building conversation specifies the range of contact that is acceptable (e.g., anything but bikini area is within the range, or kissing is always closed mouth, etc.).
  • The boundaries may change over the rehearsal process, either narrowing or broadening, but any change to the boundaries will be discussed and agreed upon before the rehearsal.
  • There will be an opportunity to discuss potential boundary violations at the end of each rehearsal and performance.
  • The agreed-upon structure of intimate contact will be maintained once a show is in production.
    Further guidelines for building consent and establishing boundaries are at the end of this policy memo.
  • Actors will inform the stage manager and their scene partner(s) if they are sick (sore throat, cold sore, etc.), and alternate choreography will be defined for sick days.


  • No cell phones or cameras are allowed out in the rehearsal studio or theater while an actor performs SC/N on stage. It is the stage manager’s duty to enforce this in rehearsal or tech, and the house manager’s duty to enforce this in performance. Faculty or production staff who are present will support the stage manager or house manager.
  • If anyone takes unauthorized videos or photos of an actor performing SC/N, the stage manager, house manager, faculty, or staff in charge must watch that person delete the videos or photos from their device.
  • Only the photographer hired by the UW School of Drama will be allowed to photograph scenes with SC/N.
  • A consent form will be signed by the actors, director, designers, director of engagement, and production manager, stating that the actor has the the right of refusal of any photograph of themselves nude being used on social media or in marketing materials.
  • Consent by the actor to the costume they wear onstage indicates consent to the design team to use production images in their portfolios. This is not consent to social media or marketing use (see above).

Faculty and Staff Roles

We recognize that in an academic setting, many of these protocols will be new to participants. We wish to emphasize that School of Drama faculty and staff are available as resources, when questions or concerns arise, or to help facilitate difficult conversations. We encourage all students to reach out to us. We don’t see these guidelines as limitations, but as agreements that expand what’s possible.

Production Policy Memo Number 19, first established Oct. 2021
Adapted from The Chicago Theatre Standards
Faculty Approval and adoption: Oct 13, 2021